Walking the Razor’s Edge

As organizational learning and development professionals we need to be walking he razor’s edge of new and innovative ways to deliver content. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the infrastructure to support our initiatives. 


I had a colleague of mine forward the above article, and I highly encourage you to take a look at it—Some very noteworthy material. But I wanted to take a moment and comment on a few of the items as I see it in many organizations I have worked with in the past.

“78% of corporate managers believe that “rapid rate of information change” is one of their top learning challenges (800+ HR and L&D managers surveyed in 2008).”

I agree with this point, but for many organizations, the greater challenge is getting the support infrastructure to execute rapidly. A lesson I learned when developing training during the dotcom explosion was that systems training had to be built and deployed in the fraction of time that traditional technical training was developed. This also meant that the delivery systems had to able to support a multiple of deployment methods.

The organizations I worked in that were successful and that could capitalize on ROI of a training project were those that were willing to break the mold. On several projects my team was responsible for reacting quickly to content changes.

The frustration often came when we did not have an IT infrastructure capable (willing) to support those changes. There needs to be more line of site between those who are responsible for developing training and information media and those who are in charge of IT support systems.

“80% of all corporate learning takes place through on-the-job interactions with peers, experts, and managers (estimated data collected from over 1,100 L&D managers late in 2008).”

Agree– but formal coaching and mentoring should be set up– with support materials such as guides, podcast, evaluation systems…otherwise it becomes both a maverick system and limited ability to track, duplicate, refine, and measure .

“Over 30% of all corporate training programs (ie. classroom or other formal programs) are not delivering any measurable value (data provided through the same survey).”

Strongly agree– we are stuck in measuring response of the learner (level 1) and butts in seats… when was the last time we negotiated a percentage of the ROI on a project or followed up on behavior/ performance changes with a manager- or even made the manager a partner/ stakeholder in the learning we are “delivering”?

“Nearly all Millenial employees (under the age of 25) expect to find an on-demand learning portal (similar to Google and YouTube) within their employer’s environment.”

Strongly agree– I can go to youtube and learn about Maslow Hierarchy of needs in prep for an exam, see how an outfitter tent is put together, or learn how memory is installed in a Macbook Pro…but I can’t get IT to support initiatives such as podcasting, video blogs, or other social media tools… In today’s instant media access culture, we need to meet learners where they are, deliver on time “burst” training, with 24×7 access, and use media sources that are cutting edge.

Most training organizations have not changed or reinvented themselves in the past 15 years– unless they were a private firm. In-house training is stuck in old delivery methods, outdated metrics, a system of “the learning universe revolves around us”, and technology that does not meet the learners need…and this is the fault of trainers and those who support the information technology infrastructure.

I want an IT department to do three things to support my client and me. First, stop asking “why” and start asking “how”. How do they help, how do they support, how do they adapt.

The second, be on the cutting edge of technology. I should not have to go to a client’s IT manager and explain Twitter, Podcasting, etc. I expect an IT manager to come to me with the newest innovations, and not just with the brand he or she is familiar with.

Finally, understand that where we are in the information age is not where we were five years ago, nor where we will be in five years. Twenty-five years ago if I was building a training manual, I had to have a type-setter, a paste-up artist, a graphics designer, etc.  For the past 10-12 years now I have been able to develop my own manuals from my own desk top.

Another example, in 1999 I had to have a digital media company come in and help me script, film, edit, and distribute a short 8 minute film on customer service. Recently I did all this for a memory installation project for a consumer electronics company. I did all the work myself.

Learning professionals have many more tools now to execute and deliver on projects and IT has not kept pace of our methods and techniques.

Remember, if you are the early adopter, you are still in second place.


for more information about me- please visit my website at http://www.adventureiq.com or my podcast on iTunes (Adventure IQ)

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